Discover Geology AR
Thanks to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Faculty and the Manchester Museum of the University of Manchester we spent a wonderful day hiking in Peak District and learning about its fascinating geology. This field trip marked the launch of Discover Geology – a new augmented reality application designed to guide visitors through the surroundings of Castleton whilst helping them discover the formation and history of this area.
Today we learnt why the Peak District landscape is so beautiful, how Blue John was formed and why it is so rare and precious, what happened to Devil’s Arse and what sort of sea creatures lived nearby Castleton millions of years ago. The application guides you through the main points of interest and reveals details interactively as you walk along the route.
The trip was meant to test the application implemented by Mimas and understand what difficulties users might experience. We fiddled a bit at the start trying to set up our devices and get acquainted with the various options available. Soon enough it all turned into a social experiment. Some people preferred listening to the information as they slowly walked on the route, others stopped at various points of interest to use the app. I’ve discovered that hiking and augmented reality mix in moderate amounts. The things happening on the screen sometimes distract from the path and safety hazards ensue. Ironically, the precious sunshine diminished the experience making our screens barely visible. Some had troubles with data connection on various segments. However, none of the hiccups prevented us from enjoying our day and the application helped us interact with the environment in a fun engaging way. All in all, the app made us take paths we didn’t consider, stop and examine rocks we would’ve otherwise ignored, find tiny fossils and see our trip as more than just a casual walk in the hills.
We can only hope that the people working on this project will continue to expand and improve Discover Geology AR. An offline version would probably eliminate most of the problems encountered today. The benefits of this e-learning concept greatly surpass any technical difficulties, so we would love to see new routes added to the app. More information about the team that designed the application is available at SCARLET (Special Collections using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching).
To make the most of your Castleton visit you can now access the Discover Geology augmented reality information by installing the Junaio browser on your mobile device and scanning the QR code below.
Photography © Claudiu Mihăilă